Recount begins in Virginia House of Delegates District 85

A recount of votes cast in the Nov. 2, 2021, general election for Virginia House of Delegates District 85 began on Dec. 2. Incumbent Del. Alex Askew (D) and District 91 incumbent Del. Martha Mugler (D) both filed court petitions for a recount on November 17. The recount in District 91 is expected to begin on Dec. 7. 

In Virginia, a candidate may request a recount of his or her race within 10 days of results being certified if the margin between the requester and the winning candidate is less than or equal to 1% of the total votes cast for the two candidates. Certified results released on Nov. 15 showed both races were within this margin. Karen Greenhalgh (R) led Askew by 127 votes in District 85 and Aijalon Cordoza (R) led Mugler by 94 votes in District 91. 

According to Virginia Beach Deputy Registrar Christine Lewis, the District 85 ballots will be recounted using a high-speed scanner, and any ballots featuring irregularities will be counted by hand. On Dec. 3, any ballots challenged by either candidate will be inspected by a three-judge panel, who will then rule on how they should be counted.

According to the certified results, Republicans won 52 of the chamber’s 100 total seats, meaning that if the recounts in Districts 85 and 91 succeed in reversing the results, the chamber will be tied 50-50. In the event of a tied chamber, the House would vote on a power-sharing agreement and the Clerk of the House would preside over the vote for a speaker. Any tie vote in the chamber would reject any agreement, speaker, or legislation. 

Across the 50 states, 20 states have a statutory provision allowing for automatic recounts, and 43 states have a statutory provision allowing for requested recounts. Since 2017, Ballotpedia has covered five noteworthy recounts at the state legislative level. Those five recounts resulted in two reversals of the initial election result, one of which became a tie.

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